By Christian Brown
University of Tennessee
Two years ago I became a Chicago area regional representative. While I had previous experience recruiting with another university based in Tennessee, I had never done any out-of-state recruiting. As a new regional employee in a new state, I decided to seek out individuals who were veterans in the field. One of the first suggestions that I was given from most people I spoke with was to get involved in IACAC. I was very hesitant in the beginning as I did not want to get too overwhelmed with outside commitments while learning a new role. I did eventually join the organization, but was not involved with any activities other than the annual IACAC Conference. After completing a full season in my new territory, I decided I was ready to become an active member of the organization. I reviewed the list of committees and found the CAP (College Awareness and Preparation) committee to be the best fit for my personal interests in regards to higher education. Once I contacted the committee, I was welcomed with open arms.
I joined the CAP committee last spring and luckily due to timing I was able to get involved immediately. One of my favorite experiences so far has been my involvement with Camp College 2016. This program is particularly special to me as I volunteered with the Camp College program back in my home state of Tennessee. Having had previous experience with the program, I was very excited to see new students, new presenters, and to meet new colleagues. This experience definitely exceeded what I expected.
While there were numerous hours of prep work done by members and chair persons of the CAP committee the results and the impact that was made on each student that participated in Camp College was completely worthwhile. Speakers with encouraging words of wisdom and sessions designed to prep students for their upcoming college searches were some of the more obvious motivators and confidence boosters for the students. However, what I found myself appreciating most were the small gestures made by the staff of Camp College. Some of the most fulfilling moments of the program were when students were not in sessions. I feel the greatest impact of all occurred when students chatted with staff during their free time about college or expressed their worries about leaving their family to go off to college.
Camp College is more than just an outreach program offered by a committee within IACAC. It is full of higher education professionals who desire to fill a gap and meet the needs of students who have very limited resources in regards to their college search process. Quite honestly, it is one of only a few ways that members of IACAC can make direct impacts on the students that our organization serves. Participation for a student within this program may be the only time that that student gets to experience visiting a college campus. It may even be the only time that a student gets the chance to see a place outside of their own community. As I continue my involvement with Camp College, the CAP committee, and IACAC, I hope that our organization will continue to move forward always keeping in mind of how our small gestures will eventually lead to a greater impact.